Happy Weekend

July 29, 2011

Inside/Outside

July 29, 2011

If I were you and you were me, here’s what we would do this weekend:

Steve James is one of the finest filmmakers working today. Hoop Dreams was a watershed moment in documentary filmmaking and remains one of my all-time favorite movies. His new film, The Interrupters, is in theaters Friday. It’s a somber look at gang violence in the inner city of Chicago and the efforts of a group of ex-gangbangers that have made it their mission to put an end to the bloodshed. With James behind the lens, it’s all but guaranteed to move you.

If you’re hungry for more silver screen, wander over to Cinema Village and catch the documentary Sleep Furiously. I have absolutely no idea what this film is about, but this weekend, I plan to do exactly what its title suggests. (Note: I just watched a short trailer and I’m really intrigued. Now I’m watching a longer trailer and I’m even more intrigued. The music is by Aphex Twin. I think I just talked myself into seeing this film in the amount of time it took for me to write this wack-ass paragraph.)

Go to the rooftop garden of the Met. Get a drink at the bar, gawk at the absolutely bananas panoramic view of Central Park and the city below. Get another drink and catch a buzz. Check out the sculptures by Anthony Caro that are currently on display. Pretended to appreciate the artwork for a few minutes, get back in line for the bar. Think about what else you have to do today. Realize you have nothing to do because it’s the weekend. Grin.

Yoooooooooo

April 20, 2010

I’m gonna skip the part where I say how long it’s been since I’ve posted and just say what’s up. So what’s up? It’s still like in the 50s outside, but you know what? We’re creeping closer to summer and I can’t fucking wait. Break out the charcoal and mexican beer. Let’s sweat our nuts off on the subway platform before trekking to some park or rooftop where we get drunk then walk around until our feet hurt, find a place to get a bite to eat outside then stay out all night. Sounds good, right? Until then we have “When I’m With You” by Best Coast to keep us warm. Song’s been around but new video that cheered me up after a shitty day at work.

Who wouldn’t want to cruise around with a Ronald McDonald look-alike all day? I know I sure would.

Deth P. Sun @ Giant Robot

August 27, 2008

Last Saturday, a few friends and I went to check out Deth P. Sun’s installation at the Giant Robot gallery on 9th and A (at the behest of Soybomb of course). Though I recognized Sun’s work, I had never known the Oakland-based artist by name. The pieces on display were primarily painted wood panels of varying sizes and prominently featured Sun’s signature feline character, often wandering through treacherous landscapes. I might just be insane, but his art reminded me somewhat of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, if only Peter Rabbit took acid and got lost in the woods. Nevertheless, it was pretty cool stuff and several of the pieces probably made statements that I’m too dumb to comprehend. Peep Deth P. Sun’s website HERE.

At the very least, go check out the Giant Robot store next to the gallery. They have some sweet posters, books, toys and prints, and one item in particular that shall remain nameless because I still might go back and get it. The t-shirts are cool as well, I’ve bought two in separate visits this week.

Resto Leon

August 27, 2008

So my 25th birthday came and went with little fanfare. Not that I expected a blowout, after all my it was a Monday and I’m 25. As my cohort Soybomb so deftly put it, birthdays are only cool until you turn 21. Although I admit, it would’ve been pretty glorious to rip 25 shots in celebration of my status as a legal car-renter. But being that I’m not one for huge parties anyways, all I wanted was a low-key dinner with my good friends.

I’m a big French bistro fan and despite the indecisive nature of our crew, we picked Resto Leon (thanks Fresh) a small place on 12th between 1st and 2nd. It’s a dimly lit, unassuming place, complete with a sidewalk patio. The mood inside was definitely mellow and the staff anything but pretentious. My friends and I were impressed by the menu which, while simple, offered something for everyone. Several kids swore by the salmon tartar and my roommate all but licked the bottom of his bowl of corn soup. I got what I had my mind set on from the jump, possibly my favorite meal, steak frites. It didn’t disappoint and the portions were more than enough. Of course someone ratted out that we were there for a birthday and the staff came charging out singing with a chocolate souffle in tow. Dank.

If I were to pinpoint one aspect that could’ve been a tad better, it would be the music. I’m probably more picky than most on this front, but the sounds fluctuated in both volume and genre. When we first arrived, the tunes floated from downtempo electronic, reggae and soul, which was perfect. But as the night progressed, the music strayed towards louder dance and disco tunes, which seemed out of place in such a chill spot. I think the staff noticed the incongruence and switched back to the earlier theme. All in all, I had a great time and wouldn’t have a birthday any other way. As for the menu, it’s reasonably priced…although I couldn’t really tell you cause I didn’t pay, ya heard? Thanks guys! You suckaaaaas. Ha.

I’ve written in the past about all the great free music NYC has to offer and this past Friday was yet another prime example. To start the night, my buddy Kure—from We Kure Burns fame—and I caught Grand Archives’ set at the South Street Seaport. For those unfamiliar, Grand Archives is a Seattle-based band started by Mat Brooke, formerly of Band of Horses, and signed to Sub Pop. Though not wholly unlike his former band, Brooke’s new outfit places a greater emphasis on vocal harmonies and leans more towards pop-rock than alt-country. On Friday, the tunes, primarily drawn from Grand Archives’ self-titled debut, were the perfect accompaniment to the backdrop of the Seaport. There are few places I’d rather see a show on a chill Friday evening. Check out the video for “Miniature Birds” below. The llamas are sweet, but the little kid kinda creeps me out.

After Grand Archives finished up, we hustled out to Brooklyn to see Professor Murder play for free at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. I had seen Professor Murder once before when they opened up for Matt and Kim at the Bowery and have wanted to see them again ever since. The scene at the Music Hall couldn’t have been more different than that at the Seaport. A cool breeze and blissfully spaced out heads were traded for a thumping bassline and hipsters abiding by an implied dress code. After mediocre sets by Pink Skull and Free Blood, Professor Murder (three excellent names by the way), set it off with their electronic post-punk. When I think of P-Murder, I think percussion out the ass with a healthy dose of cowbell. If you don’t feel like moving, you’re comatose. When they launched into “Free Stress Test,” kids started bouncing of the walls. I’ve included the best video of the song I could find below. Overall it was a great night of music and all I paid for was Budweiser.

“Miniature Birds”

“Free Stress Test”

It’s hard to complain about the Beijing Olympics. It’s set in one of the most mysterious, exotic, and beautiful places in the world. Add on top of that, the Chinese penchant for extravagance and perfection and you get a hell of a show. The opening ceremony will go down as the greatest ever, thousands of synchronized drummers and fireworks providing a show worthy of past emperors. I definitely watched from beginning to end.

Since the opening ceremonies though, the Olympics and China have experienced feats and embarrassments. As expected world records have been broken, gold medals won, but the controversies have gotten more attention. It started with the random murder of an American, and continued into potentially underage gymnasts. But I guess that’s to be expected. When you bring all these cultures together, with different sets of values on the world stage, the ambition to “look good” supercedes all.

I do have many issues with how China has run the Olympics, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so immersed. So far, it’s definitely been a great show and there’s more to come.

However, I do have one complaint about the Olympics. It has to do with the broadcast and presentation by NBC. The casual conversation between G.W. Bush and Bob Costas left a jingoist taste in my mouth. I cringed when they discussed human rights violations in China without discussion of Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. Obviously, NBC would take a pro-American approach for the Olympics, but at times they take it too far.

Anyway, the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics are looking like the best ever. I’m gladly staying up until 1am every night watching, and am anxiously awaiting USA Basketball.

It seems to me that the Olympics have lost a bit of luster. The last time I remember being really excited for the Games was 1996 in Atlanta, perhaps because it was the first time I could actually follow the Olympics in an American city (I was a year old when the ’84 Games were in L.A.) But I think it had more to do with the fact that there were actually notable marquee athletes to root for. The ’96 Games had Michael Johnson and his awesome gold shoes, Carl Lewis, Kerri Strug and many others. Nowadays, I would be pressed to name more than one (Michael Phelps) athlete to watch for. I also think that 12 years ago, people were naively ignorant of doping. In the realm of modern day athletics, anytime a competitor breaks a record, people can’t help but wonder.

The only reason the 2008 Games are getting the attention they are is due to their setting. Talking heads are babbling on about China’s worthiness as a host country due to highly publicized (and sometimes exacerbated) human rights offenses. Is that really all there is to talk about?

Regardless, I just saw something that got me excited again. Nike is notorious for its cutting edge advertising and proved yet again why they stand alone atop the mountain of apparel companies. Nike’s new Olympic ad literally gave me chills and does so each time I watch it. It reminded me of why we should get excited about the Olympics: the Games are an opportunity to see the finest athletes compete on a global stage, for the world to momentarily put aside its issues and focus instead on individual courage. Of course its an ideal and a naive one at that, but it sounds pretty nice doesn’t it? For two weeks it almost works.

Check out the ad. It features The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done,” which works really well, particularly with choir accompaniment:

I posted a few days ago about the summer leagues in NYC and tonight a friend and I went to check out a Nike Pro City Game at Hunter College. To our pleasant surprise none other than Michael “The Beast” Beasley was playing. Also on the court were Smush Parker, Marko Jaric and former St. John’s phenom Omar Cook. The crowd was hyped and it was a great atmosphere for a summer league game. Not to mention admission is free.

I was excited to see what Beasley could do, just to see if he’s worth all the fuss. To be honest, he didn’t show much in the first half and almost looked like he was playing timid, or afraid to get hurt. Not surprisingly, his team fell to a twenty point deficit. Someone must have talked some shit, or maybe he was embarrassed, because he came alive in the second half, displaying a versatile array of moves on the baseline and low post and even draining a few threes. He easily scored 25 in the second half alone and brought his team back for an eventual win.

If nothing else, Hunter College is a great place to see hoops during the summer and you get a chance to watch some real talent for free. Take the 6 to 68th after work and say you were there before Beasley became the next Barkley.

Nike Pro City

July 23, 2008

I recently read an article by ESPN.com’s Scoop Jackson about the deified New York City point guard. Scoop’s piece noted the decline of worshiped guards coming out of the Big Apple, citing the meteoric rise and subsequent fizzle of Sebastian Telfair as a turning point. NYC guards never changed the game, but gone are the days when players like Mark Jackson, Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland and Stephon Marbury dominated the playground then went on to have notable NBA careers. Scoop’s point was that…who cares? NYC point guards are adapting their game to the pro level less and less frequently because–so what if the world doesn’t know their name…NYC basketball heads do, and that’s all that matters to them.

All summer I’ve been meaning to catch a few Nike summer league games at the city’s hallowed grounds for summer ball: Hunter College, West 4th, Dyckman and Conrad McRae, among others. These courts host games featuring rising college stars, current and former NBA players and playground dudes. Pro City at Hunter College (68th and Lex) has runs each Tuesday and Thursday nights, Dyckman (204th and Nagle) each weekend for the most part, West 4th every damn day and Conrad McRae (Park Slope) on Saturdays and Sundays. For comprehensive info on each court and full schedules, check out Nike Basketball’s NYC page HERE. If you go on the right day, you might just witness the next God Shammgod. While we’re on the topic of Shamm, check out a highlight reel from the ’95 McDonald’s game…